The most contested thoughts after The Return aired its finale were all related to reality: Which reality were Cooper and “Carrie” in? Where was Audrey? Was the Roadhouse real or what? And how about Annie? There were fans going all meta, building theories that Cooper and Twin Peaks have now entered the real world. The state of exactly what reality we were observing was the big question at the root of everything, up to and including Laura’s scream at the end. And thanks to Mark Frost’s The Final Dossier, I’ve come to this fairly solid conclusion: the barrier between regular Twin Peaks reality and Lodge reality is so thin the two realities coexist in the same physical space.
Don’t worry, I’ll be explaining why I think this.
With all the answers about the townsfolk and the surface answers the book is already famous for, it’s hard to find specific answers about the state of reality within its pages, but if you put the book’s information next to that which we got in The Return, you’ll be able to find commonalities that place people in both realities at once. And therefore the case is easy to be made.
Rather than multiple realities asserting themselves as a “prime” reality in terms of continuity, I think there’s one root reality and the Lodge reality is draped around it like curtains, or maybe the Lodge reality is a mask over the Twin Peaks reality or vice versa. Thinking that the Lodge and regular realities are existing at once in the same overlapped space explains so much…how exactly it was that Dale went into Jeffries’ Owl Ring-based 8 (and therefore back into the Lodge) yet his Lodge exploits seem to actually change regular Twin Peaks in that Laura Palmer is a missing persons case? If Lodge reality and the base reality are one and the same geographically, that works well enough.
I’ve been proposing since Part 9 that the barrier between worlds was breaking down, though at the time I was crediting Sparkle with much of the heavy lifting of that breakdown. It just turns out Sparkle was more of an indicator of what was happening rather than an instigator. People that took Sparkle or otherwise altered their senses were able to experience higher and lower levels of reality at once. It didn’t do their mental health any favors, as anyone watching Jerry Horne can attest to, but I think these characters were in Twin Peaks to show us that our Twin Peaks officially operates on dream logic as much as it does standard common sense. And to explain the why of it, I think I can explain by tweaking my timequake theory.
Timequake theory in a nutshell is this: The main Twin Peaks reality operates like one tectonic plate, and the Lodge reality works like a neighboring tectonic plate. As the realities interact with each other they cause friction and eventually that builds up into full-on reality quakes that send shockwaves simultaneously backward as well as forward through time, therefore changing events, dates, and explains things such as Annie going from the age of 10 into her early 20s in less than ten years. (If you want more than this, read my other writing on the subject here and here) The example I’ll include here is Laura Palmer besting BOB in the traincar, followed soon after by Dale Cooper giving his soul to BOB and therefore creating Cooper’s doppelganger. These are two prime examples of two human beings interacting intensely with Lodge reality beings and causing a lot of friction. As we operate at different frequencies from the Lodge reality, it is difficult enough to be in the same space much less be able to communicate properly (backwards speaking, anyone?). The pressure it takes to exist in a common place will eventually charge the “tectonic plates” enough that they will slip and cause “earth” quakes through time. The portals and vortexes we’ve seen in the books and The Return are basically the locations of the fault lines.
I’m probably reverse-engineering quantum theory through a geology framework, so maybe I shouldn’t be as surprised as I am that my little-theory-that-could made it past its first birthday without being tossed out with the bathwater, but I like leaving timequake as a metaphor originating from nature rather than dumping it completely into quantum theory. The quantum physicist types can analyze it that way and it’ll work (because in Twin Peaks the only way to get a wrong answer is to say you have the only correct answer; our theories will co-exist just fine). I’ll stick with my more organic “living map” style of approach because it makes more sense to me. And besides, I feel like I got some backup from Jerry Horne in this book.
We all know by now the grand tradition of comedic characters speaking the wisdoms of the series (see Andy, Lucy, and Jacoby in particular). In a joke that places Jerry as the owner of the two real life cabins that became Neil Young’s speakers for a listening experience on a nearby lake, Frost sneaks in a possible statement on the power of frequencies and resonances, a theme in Season 3 in particular. He writes “the resulting wall of sound from certain recordings is rumored to create whitecaps on the water and terrify most of the indigenous wildlife within a five mile radius.” And some Miles Davis triggered a small avalanche. Sound waves trigger physical responses by its surroundings whether or not we can see the sound waves. Sound is felt. Frequencies are felt.
One thing I’ve missed up to now, in keeping my metaphor one-for-one with real earthquakes, is that real life earthquakes sometimes have so much force behind them that the landscape is irrevocably changed. Tectonic plates can slip and overlap each other where they were once side by side. The ground intrudes into the sky, and mountains are formed. There’s a reminder of this possibility right in Twin Peaks: White Tail and Blue Pine mountains. And, as everything else in Twin Peaks, as below so above. Why wouldn’t two realities sometimes slip so much that a metaphysical mountain is formed in both realities? I think the Lodge reality and our Twin Peaks reality has timequaked enough that the realities have pushed through into their neighboring realms. The sheer force and frequency of their reality interactions have weakened the boundaries between their proverbial tectonic plates, and they slipped right on top of each other. Part of our reality has pushed mountain-style into the Lodge reality, and part of the Lodge reality has pushed its way mountain-style into our own reality. And that means (at least to a point) both realities co-exist in the same space.
And what better proof is there of coexisting levels of reality than Jerry’s niece, Audrey? We find out in The Final Dossier that her real life in the Twin Peaks reality has her likely spending time in the sanitarium, and it’s documented she’d actually married Charlie. It seems most likely that she was in our reality the whole time, right? You forget that in Season 3 the Roadhouse tells us otherwise.
The Roadhouse is a liminal place
The Roadhouse, for example, has been contested and debated in the fan community for months. Is it in reality, or is it part of the Lodge reality? Based on Season 3 alone, you can say both. You can say it alternates. Possibly some bands are playing in the real Roadhouse and some are playing in the Lodge Roadhouse. This is a thing being discussed. What I pose here is that the Roadhouse exists in both levels of reality at once, the higher astral plane of the Lodges as well as our physical plane of traditional Twin Peaks. And it’s the same Roadhouse all the way through The Return. The same Roadhouse that Shelly and her friends hang out at as it is when Ruby gets lifted from her booth and she crawls across the floor before she gives it her best Sheryl Lee scream. And of course the same Roadhouse that somehow understands how to, without instructions, make an entire crowd clear away to the edges to give Audrey the floor for a song that she somehow understands really is her dance. Right up until that point it could be a real place, but anything after, it’s not behaving like any place in our reality. Real places don’t snap someone into a sanitarium room in front of a mirror, and real places don’t continue to play the same song backwards after that person leaves. I’m never going to believe it’s anything but Lodge-adjacent.
There are other liminal spaces in Twin Peaks Season 3, such as the sheriff’s department with the old place up front and the high tech modern setup in the back, that has to be one of them. And of course there’s the Palmer House that may have a Lodge-influenced Sarah Palmer haunting it while quite possibly you’d meet a completely different family who lives there if you’re more inclined not to feel the Lodge influences. But rather than following these places I’m going to stay with Audrey for a little while longer (before finally having a genuine chance to talk about Annie Blackburn).
Audrey actually married Charlie, the sleepiest accountant in the universe. He’s not just a Lodge symbol of Audrey trying to get out of her lodge-looped situation. He’s also a genuine character. But their Lodge-loopy identical dialogues about Audrey leaving for the Roadhouse has an otherworldly bent to them still, and the Roadhouse still played “Audrey’s Dance” for her and it still played it backwards. Audrey exists in a Lodge space at the same time as she is awake in our reality, and I suggest that Charlie is so sleepy because he’s also in between realities. Charlie is a collateral victim to Audrey’s Lodge-tied situation. He’s in a constant state of unreality brought on by Audrey’s connections to DoppelCooper and her son Richard. Audrey’s a strong character, so I think we witnessed her wake up into the sanitarium after she finished shoveling herself out of her proverbial sh*t, but that doesn’t mean Charlie can make it out from between the worlds. Maybe he’ll finally fall asleep like little Denny Craig and never wake back up.
I think there’s slim possibility our earthly Audrey could still be a tulpa, switched out like Diane was after DoppelCooper assaulted her, but since there are tulpas as well as doppelgangers, I could see Audrey being her own entirely different sort of Lodge-form character. But most likely than that, I think she is and always has been herself. And she’s literally got herself into the jam of being trapped between worlds. Like Joel Bocko mentioned on Twin Peaks Unwrapped about Audrey, “she’s not central but she is special.”
Audrey’s not a tulpa, but Annie Blackburn sure is
When it came to finally reintroducing Annie Blackburn to us after 25 years, Mark Frost masterfully pummeled us with Season 2 misdirection beginning with Annie’s dad and then an interminably long section with Vivian, one of the only Twin Peaks characters I truly despise. And it was all written in that Season 2 soap opera way that made me enjoy how gleefully unapologetic Frost was about the period of Season 2 fans openly deride. By the time we got to the part with Annie in the hospital, she had been described as a character as mundane as they come, and I don’t blame anyone for not noticing how she was probably turned into a tulpa.
Annie, on the night she was taken into the Red Room in Episode 29, came out of it wearing the Owl Ring. The nurse swipes it in the Missing Pieces, but possibly that’s how the switch happened. Within 24 hours of being in the hospital, according to The Final Dossier, Annie was discovered in an “abject catatonic state.” Days later she was able to, with assistance sit up and walk around. She remained passive, compliant, serene, and allowed the nursing staff to dress, feed, and bathe her as needed. And she ” never spoke, never acknowledged anyone’s presence, never even appeared to see or hear anyone or anything in front of her.” Later on (well after a suicide attempt that I’d contest is her living through some sort of looped time herself, getting to the point in her life where she relives her first attempt, or to put it into more Las Vegas style wording, she may have had “an episode”), she is described like this: “peaceful in temperament, and blissfully detached from everything and everyone around her.”
Tell me that doesn’t remind you of anyone.
So yeah, Annie’s a tulpa, at least the Annie sitting in the private psychiatric hospital is. Which means, based on Diane’s situation (and even Dale’s), the real Annie is probably in the Lodge somewhere. Who knows, maybe she’s American Girl. And with any luck we may find out someday, but as of now we’re still asking everyone “how’s Annie,” and once a year her tulpa will be happy to tell us “I’m fine.”
For as high a percentage of answers as it seems to have, I’m quite pleased The Final Dossier still opens up so many avenues of mysteries and questions. Through the end of the year I’m going to be working hard on the puzzles this book is helping me answer. I’ll be revisiting my theories up until now to see how well they blend into my post-Dossier outlook, maybe even coming up with brand new takes that I can’t even fathom right now.
As for my next column, I plan on digging into the Palmers and the questions their treatment in the book brings to my mind. It’s not going to be easy for me to take this one on, but I know I need to do it. Until then, hang in there, and let me know what you think about all this. I’ve been getting a ton of smart feedback that gets me thinking, and I hope this column is no exception.